Posts made in June 2019

This year’s ‘newest’ superfood is—wait for it—cottage cheese

July 1, 2019

Cottage cheese: It’s not just for dieters anymore. In fact, nutritionists have a brand-new viewpoint on this traditional food. They now consider cottage cheese to be a protein powerhouse that you should scoop up for everyday snacks and use as a meal ingredient, according to a June 27 report by Prevention.

There’s a good reason that nutritionists such as New York-based Regina Ragone call cottage cheese a game-changer, the magazine says. “It has all the elements that people are looking for in a food today—high in protein, low in sugar and carbs,” she said in an interview, adding, “It’s even perfect for keto followers.”

When considering what kind of cottage cheese is healthiest, Ragone suggests choosing full fat or 2%. The no-fat version has less protein, may contain stabilizers, and won’t satisfy hunger as well. And it just tastes less rich. (One nutritional drawback to keep in mind: Cottage cheese can be a bit high in sodium. There are low- and no-salt versions, but you may find those pretty low in flavor too.)

Consider it a tasty way to build muscle: One cup of 2% cottage cheese has 27 grams of protein for only 195 calories. Compare that to two large eggs, which contain 12 grams of protein for 158 calories.

“And cottage cheese keeps you feeling full, which can help you lose weight,” Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of Los Angelese-based TastyBalance Nutrition told Prevention. “Plus it has plenty of vitamins and minerals, such as B12, selenium, and riboflavin.” It also helps you get your daily dose of calcium, which is not only good for your bones; it also may decrease your risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to the pros, it’s fine to get a daily serving—or more—of cottage cheese. It’s an ideal post-workout snack because it contains casein, a slow-digesting protein that’s used in some protein powders.

Pine suggests the traditional pairing with fruit for a protein-carb combo that replenishes muscle and energy. “Cottage cheese has a high amount of the amino acid leucine, which gets into the muscle easily and triggers muscle protein synthesis,” says Pine.

Research contact: @PreventionMag

CardMunch founder introduces newer version of business card app

July 1, 2019

More than 25 years since the revolutionary Palm Pilot allowed us to send our contact info to one another, there still isn’t a great replacement for the old-fashioned paper business card.

However, Mountain View, California-based CardMunch—an app founded in 2009 by three entrepreneurs—now is being reconfigured by one of them for that very purpose, Axios reported on June 27.

Originally, the app was a mobile business card transcription service that captured business cards and created digital contacts in a user’s phonebook. But the service faded into obscurity.

Now, venture capitalist Manu Kumar—who started the company along with Bowei Gai and Sid Viswanathan—is giving the app another try. His company, San Francisco-based HiHello, which he founded in January 2018 along with Hari Ravi, is essentially using a similar approach: human-verified scanning of digital business cards by anyone with a smartphone.

According to Axios, the free HiHello app, which is available for iOS and Android, will offer users five free business scan cards per month; while paid options, ranging from $5 to $20 per month, will provide even more scans.

History lesson: Axios notes that there was an app, Bump, that let cell phones physically touch to share info, but Google bought it in 2013 and it faded into in obscurity. CardMunch also dealt with it, but it was acquired by LinkedIn, neglected and eventually handed off to Evernote.

Research contact: @axios

Harris hits hard at Biden at Miami debate; leaves frontrunner reeling

July 1, 2019

All of the Democratic hopefuls piled on their criticisms of the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, during the June 27 presidential debate, hosted by NBC News in Miami—but Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) bested her 19 rivals, a longtime Republican pollster told CNBC on Friday.

“She owned the stage, and Joe Biden should have known it was coming, ” Frank Luntz said in a Squawk Box interview the morning after the second round of debates..

Harris, a first-term U.S. senator and former California attorney general, bashed Biden for his comments at a June 25 New York City fundraiser, at which he reminisced about the atmosphere of political fellowship when he was a senator in the 1970s and 1980s—comparing it to today’s climate, in which political rivals are considered “the enemy.”

At that event, Biden cited his ability to work with such staunch segregationists as Senator James Eastland (D- Mississippi), who Biden said was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

“I was in a caucus with … Eastland,” Biden said and then, imitating a Southern accent, added that the senator “never called me ‘boy,’” a racial epithet used against black men (but not against Caucasians such as Biden).

At Thursday night’s debate, Harris left Biden chagrined and disconcerted after she pressed him on his July 25 comments—as well as on his record on school desegregation.

As the only black candidate on the stage, Harris recounted her own experience with integration and told Biden it was “hurtful” that he had worked with segregationist senators and led anti-busing efforts, NBC News reported.

At the end of her attack, she threw a curveball that knocked both Biden and the audience off their feet: ““There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said.

“She was very effective in that moment,” said one of the other candidates, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).

Biden called Harris’s blitzkrieg “a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” arguing, “I did not praise racists.”

As NBC news reported, the former vice president also reiterated the argument he has made in the past: that the federal government should not have been empowered to force schools to use busing as a means of desegregation..

By the end of the back and forth, the usually loquacious Biden cut himself off. “My time is up,” he said abruptly. “I’m sorry.”

 “That was a brilliant debate performance,” Luntz said to CNBC of Harris. “She’s the winner of both nights.”

So, would Harris be the best adversary to Trump in a future debate?

 “Don’t focus on the national numbers,” said Luntz, who refused to say which Democratic candidate would present the toughest challenge to Trump’s reelection campaign.At this point, it’s all about convincing primary voters in key early-voting states, the pollster said. “What really matters is IowaNew HampshireSouth Carolina. ”

In handicapping Harris’ primary chances, Luntz said, “South Carolina is 40% African American, the Democratic primary. She has now staked a clear claim to that vote. A number of them have been supporting Biden up to this point.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Bitter pills: High dementia risk linked to category of prescription drugs called anticholinergics

June 27, 2019

Prescription pills that many people take for what ails them actually may be putting them at risk for dementia, results of a study conducted by the UK’s University of Nottingham, Aldermoor Health Centre, and University of Oxford have demonstrated.

The drugs—anticholinergics—are widely prescribed for such conditions as  urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, depression and psychosis, gastrointestinal conditions, and the involuntary muscle movements associated with Parkinson’s disease. Examples include atropine, bentropine mesylate, clidinium, dicylomine, oxybutynin, scopolamine, solifenacin, and tiotroplum—but there are many more.

Anticholinergic drugs are used to block the action of acetylcholine—a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that transfers signals between certain cells to affect your body functions, according to Healthline.

The investigation—published on June 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association–Internal Medicinefound that patients over the age of 55 who took anticholinergic medication each day for more than three years had a 50% greater risk of developing dementia.

“This study provides further evidence that doctors should be careful when prescribing certain drugs that have anticholinergic properties,” Tom Dening, one of the authors and head of the Center for Dementia at the University of Nottingham, said in a press release. “However, it’s important that patients taking medications of this kind don’t just stop them abruptly, as this may be much more harmful. If patients have concerns, then they should discuss them with their doctor to consider the pros and cons of the treatment they are receiving.”

According to a report by Newsweek, the researchers analyzed medical data on nearly 59,000 people with dementia, which they collected between January 2004 and January 2016. Of the records they analyzed, the average age of patients was 82 and about 63% of them were women.

Approximately 57% of the patients in the study received a prescription for at least one strong anticholinergic drug, one to 11 years before being diagnosed with dementia. Although the link found between the drugs and development of dementia appears strong, the researchers noted that their findings are associations and do not show that the drugs cause dementia.

“Further research is needed to confirm whether or not the association between these drugs and risk of dementia is causal. These drugs are prescribed for a number of health conditions and any concerns patients might have about them should be discussed with their doctors,” Professor Martin Rossor, NIHR National Director of Dementia Research, based in London, told Newsweek.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Prime time: In rivalry with Amazon, Target offers ‘deal days,’ eBay plans a ‘crash sale’

June 27, 2019

Amazon is promoting its “Prime Day” again—but other retailers aren’t going to be caught out again this year. They are offering a bevy of their own deals, which they hope will dazzle shoppers and draw them into their websites and brick-and-mortar locations.

According to a report by CNBC, both Target and eBay so far have announced their own deal strategies following Amazon’s announcement on June 25—in which the company said Prime Day will actually run for two days this year and begin at midnight (PT) on July 15.

Target is plugging its “deal days” on July 15 and 16. The discount chain said in a June 25 press release, “Savers, start your engines. Today we’re unveiling Target Deal Days, two (yep, two!) days of red-hot online sales, no membership required. On Monday, July 15, and Tuesday, July 16, you’ll be able to save big with thousands of deals across Target.com and on the Target app, with new deals each day.”

As it says above, Target is emphasizing that no o membership is required to shop the special deals—as is the case with Amazon’s event. Customers can also receive 5% in savings when they use a Target credit card.

Last year,  CNBC reminds us, Target held a one-day sale on its website that aligned with Prime Day. It was one of the retailer’s biggest days of the year for online sales, according to Target’s Chief Merchandising Officer Mark Tritton.

Amazon rival eBay, meanwhile, is holding what it calls a “crash sale.” It said it will start offering some deals as early as July 1. But on July 15, it will be offering deals on major brands including LG, Apple, Samsung, KitchenAid, and Garmin.

What’s more, eBay snarks,  it will drop more deals if Amazon’s website crashes, as it did last year at the start of Prime Day.  “July has become a massive shopping season,” Jay Hanson, COO of eBay’s Americas division, told CNBC.

On Prime Day, which started in July 2015 as a way to mark the company’s 20th anniversary, Amazon Prime members can buy highly discounted products. The deals are applied to most of the goods Amazon sells. And many items will sell out within minutes, creating a sort of Black Friday scramble where people are trying to buy things as quickly as possible.

Amazon said last year’s Prime Day was its biggest ever, topping a record in 2017. And so it’s plausible this year could be even more successful since it runs longer, CNBC says.

Amazon shares are up about 25% so far this year. Target’s stock has rallied close to 30%; eBay shares are up more than 39%.

Research contact: @CNBC

Look who’s talking! Mueller agrees to testify for TV cameras in July; Trump vents anger

June 27, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump flailed out in all directions—at the Democrats, at former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, at two former FBI officials—on June 26, after he learned that Mueller had agreed to testify in public before Congress next month about his investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported.

Coming nearly three months after the release of what is commonly referred to as the Mueller Report, two back-to-back hearings on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees promise to be among the most closely watched spectacles of Trump’s presidency to date, the Times said.

For those who have not read the lengthy report—including, in all probability, the majority of Congress and the U.S. population—this will represent an opportunity for the lead investigator on the case to recount what his team found, up-close and personal.

Indeed, unlike the print presentation, the live video will zoom in on Mueller’s demeanor, providing a chance for viewers to evaluate the Special Counsel’s verbal emphasis and body language.

The testimony will have the power to change minds and, potentially, to reshape the political landscape around the president’s re-election campaign and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In a statement released on the evening of June 25, Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee noted, “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”

For his part, upon hearing that the former special counsel would respond to the Congressional subpoenas and testify before two committees publicly, President Trump lashed out at Mueller on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators.

The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation and, personally, were not fans of the president. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” the president said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”

According to the Times report, Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report—which revealed that 19,000 text messages had been lost because of technical problems; not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.

“It never ends,” Mr. Trump said about Democratic efforts to investigate his conduct. He repeated, as he has done many times, that Mueller’s report found “no collusion with the Russians, “and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice.

In a press conference at the end of May, Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes, remarking, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Research contact: @nytimes

On the West Coast, there’s a clandestine pickle club with a cult following

June 26, 2019

Pickles may not strike you as a super-popular food—but Americans consume more than nine pounds of pickles per person annually, according to Natural Harvest. Not only that, but whether they are dill, sweet, bread and butter, sour, half-sour, or garlic, more than 67% of U.S. households have a jar on-hand—and they purchase pickles on an average of every 53 days.

In fact, there’s even a Pickle of the Month Club that will ship “premium, artisan-style pickles every month” from “specialty and award-winning producers across the country.” The cost is about $25/month.

But for real pickle fanatics, there’s only one place to go—and few people know about it.

According to an exclusive report from The Los Angeles Times, for the last year and a half, Jessica Wang, a pastry chef-turned-fermentation enthusiast  who worked at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco and Lasa and Madcapra in Los Angeles, has supplied a cult pickle subscription under the name Picklé Pickle Co. to a small circle of brine-minded colleagues.

Each jar, the Times gushes, “is a subtle surprise of vegetables and aromatics, usually dry-salted rather than wet-brined: watermelon rind with chive blossoms; cauliflower with curry leaf, green peppercorn and sesame oil; jicama with calamansi and a hint of habanero; preserved lemons with mango leaf and Utah salt.”

And it’s actually cheaper than the pedestrian club that “anybody can buy into.” A quarterly subscription runs $25 for three half-pint jars.

“I love having them in my fridge because you can throw them in anything you’re making and they will immediately pep it up,” photographer and gallery owner Asha Schechter, one of Wang’s first subscribers, told the news outlet in a recent interview. “I also like seeing her transform things I see at the farmers market. It’s very inspiring.”

Wang said experimentation, volunteering with farmers through the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement, a stint with Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley and a retreat at the home of food activist Sandor Katz all paved the way for a future in pickles.

“It’s such a joy and I feel so alive after eating them,” she said. “And it’s something that I can spread to others.”

You can sign up for Wang’s workshops via @picklepickle.co on Instagram.

Research contact: @latimes

Seeing stars: Cameo, a Chicago startup that sells video shoutouts from celebrities, raises $50M for expansion

June 26, 2019

Want a shoutout from Brett Favre ($500), Gilbert Gottfried ($150), Stormy Daniels ($250), Tommy Lee ($350), Teresa Giudice ($200), or Dr. Pimple Popper ($100)?

Cameo, the Chicago-based startup that lets users buy personalized video messages from celebrities, has raised $50 million to help fuel an international expansion and further develop its app, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Most of Cameo’s shoutouts are booked through its website, CEO and Co-Founder Steven Galanis told the news outlet. The startup has been building its product development team and working toward relaunching an improved app.

 “We want to make it something super engaging, that when you’re on the ‘L’ going to work, you’re opening Cameo instead of Instagram,” he told the Tribune in an interview.

Since Cameo launched more than two years ago, the startup has drawn attention for its quick and affordable access to celebrities. Last year, it joined tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Airbnb on Time’s list of 50 “Genius Companies.”

But the company has not made it this far without running into some problems: In late 2018, it was reported that an account associated with an anti-Semitic group had tricked several celebrities into making Cameo videos using coded anti-Semitic language. Galanis quickly responded, calling the videos a “wake-up call.”

Cameo employs about 100 people, more than 65 of whom work out of its Windy City headquarters. Galanis said he plans to bolster the company’s international employee ranks, and wants to add European soccer players, Bollywood actors, and K-Pop artists to its celebrity roster.

Currently, the site offers video greetings from thousands of athletes and B-, C- and D-list celebrities. Consumers can pay as much as $350 to receive a greeting from rapper and TV star Ice-T, or $200 for former Chicago Bears player Mike Singletary.

This month’s round of funding brings the total amount Cameo has raised to $65 million. Galanis declined to disclose the valuation to the Tribune-however

Menlo Park, California-based investor Kleiner Perkins led the round of funding. Other investors included media and tech investor The Chernin Group, venture capital firm Spark Ventures, Bain Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Trump on accusation of sexual assault: E. Jean Carroll is ‘totally lying’ and ‘not my type’

June 26, 2019

Talking to anchor Billy Bush on ‘Access Hollywood” in a decade-old videotape released by his political opponents in 2016, then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump said,” You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything….Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

And interestingly enough—faced with current accusations of sexual assault—the president does not bother to deny that he is capable of such an act.

Instead, as The Hill reported after an exclusive interview with the president, Trump said on June 24 that New York-based writer E. Jean Carroll was “totally lying” when she accused him of raping her more than two decades ago, adding that she is “not my type.”

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” Trump told the Hill newspaper in an interview.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night, Carroll responded: “I love that I’m not his type. Don’t you love that you’re not his type?”

She pointed out that Trump has denied all the accusations from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. “He denies, he turns it around, he threatens and he attacks,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s account of the alleged incident was detailed in an excerpt of her forthcoming book published June 21 in New York Magazine. The excerpt included a photo that identified Carroll, Trump, his then-wife, Ivana Trump, and Carroll’s then-husband, John Johnson, attending the same party around 1987.

Trump dismissed the photo on June 22, telling reporters, “Standing with my coat on in a line—give me a break—with my back to the camera. I have no idea who she is.”

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, alleged in her book that she ran into Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City during fall 1995 or spring 1996. The two recognized each other and Trump asked her for advice on purchasing a gift for a woman, Carroll told The Hill.

After she suggested buying a handbag or a hat, Carroll said that Trump turned his attention to lingerie. The two joked that the other should try the clothing on before they eventually made their way to the dressing room, she said in her account.

Once inside, Trump allegedly lunged at her, pushed her against a wall and kissed her before pulling down her tights and raping her. Carroll wrote that she fought Trump off and then ran out of the dressing room. She said the alleged incident lasted no more than three minutes.

Explaining why she didn’t come forward until now, Carroll wrote about the retribution and dismissal she expected to receive and called herself “a coward.”

Carroll denied that politics played any role in her decision to speak out. “I’m barely political. I can’t name you the candidates who are running right now,” she told CNN. “I’m not organized . . . I’m just fed up.”

President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: the complete list

She plans to continue speaking out about the alleged assault by Trump, she told The Hill. “We have to hold him accountable — not only him but a lot of guys,” she said.

Research contact: @thehill

‘Wail watchers’: Researchers say you can identify people by a ‘tell’ in their screams

June 25, 2019

If you have ever heard Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween’), Janet Leigh (“Psycho”), or Sigourney Weaver (“Aliens”)—three of Hollywood’s best-known ‘Scream Queens’—vocalize in a movie, you know that everyone sounds different in the throes of terror. Human screams convey a level of individual identity that may help explain their evolutionary origins, findings of a recent study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta and published by Peer J have established.

“Our findings add to our understanding of how screams are evolutionarily important,” says Harold Gouzoules, senior author of the study and an Emory professor of Psychology. “The ability to identify who is screaming is likely an adaptive mechanism. The idea is that you wouldn’t respond equally to just anyone’s scream. You would likely respond more urgently to a scream from your child, or from someone else important to you.”

The ability to recognize individuals by distinctive cues or signals is essential to the organization of social behavior, the authors note, and humans are adept at making identity-related judgments based on speech—even when the speech is heavily altered. Less is known, however, about identity cues in nonlinguistic vocalizations, such as screams.

Gouzoules first began researching monkey screams in 1980, before becoming one of the few scientists studying human screams about ten years ago.

“The origin of screams was likely to startle a predator and make it jump, perhaps allowing the prey a small chance to escape,” Gouzoules says. “That’s very different from calling out for help.”

He theorizes that as some species became more social, including monkeys and other primates, screams became a way to recruit help from relatives and friends when someone got into trouble. Previous research by Gouzoules and others suggests that non-human primates are able to identify whether a scream is coming from an individual that is important to them. Some researchers, however, have disputed the evidence, arguing that the chaotic and inconsistent nature of screams does not make them likely conduits for individual recognition.

Gouzoules wanted to test whether humans could determine if two fairly similar screams were made by the same person or a different person. His Bioacoustics Lab has amassed an impressive library of high-intensity, visceral sound—from TV and movie performances to the screams of non-actors reacting to actual events on YouTube videos.

The lab ran experiments with the assistance of 104 participants. The participants listened to audio files of pairs of screams on a computer, without any visual cues for context. Each pair was presented two seconds apart and participants were asked to determine if the screams came from the same person or a different person.

In some trials, the two screams came from two different callers, but were matched by age, gender and the context of the scream. In other trials, the screams came from the same caller but were two different screams matched for context. And in a third trial, the stimulus pairs consisted of a scream and a slightly modified version of itself, to make it longer or shorter than the original.

For all three of the experiments, most of the participants were able to correctly judge most of the time whether the screams were from the same person or not.

Our results provide empirical evidence that screams carry enough information for listeners to discriminate between different callers,” Gouzoules says. “Although screams may not be acoustically ideal for signaling a caller’s identity, natural selection appears to have adequately shaped them so they are good enough to do the job.”

In upcoming papers, he plans to zero in on how people determine whether they are hearing a scream or some other vocalization and how they perceive the emotional context of a scream—judging whether it’s due to happiness, anger, fear or pain.

Research contact: psyhg@emory.edu